NEW YORK – All it took was a man and a truck to inflict the deadliest terror attack on New York City since 9/11.
The attacker plowed into bicyclists and pedestrians just blocks away from the World Trade Center Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. Mangled bicycles littered the street as medics rushed to the victims.
Six victims were killed instantly. Two others died later. And more than a dozen are trying to recover as the country grapples with yet another terror attack.
The suspect was identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, a Uzbekistan native who came to the US legally in 2010, authorities said. Saipov allegedly drove a rented pickup truck onto the busy bike path, later crashed it into a school bus and then stepped outside of the vehicle brandishing imitation firearms.
A police officer shot Saipov in the abdomen, stopping the threat. He survived and underwent surgery Tuesday evening.
The suspect had been planning the attack for a number of weeks and “did this in the name of ISIS,” according to John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism.
Miller added that a handwritten note in Arabic found near the scene had both symbols and words, but the general message of it was that the Islamic State would endure forever.
Saipov was “radicalized domestically” in the US, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday morning.
“The evidence shows — and again, it’s only several hours, and the investigation is ongoing — but that after he came to the United States is when he started to become informed about ISIS and radical Islamic tactics,” Cuomo said.
Saipov came to the US from the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan in 2010 on a diversity immigrant visa, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program awards up to 50,000 individuals per year a visa for a green card, which bestows permanent residency and is a path to citizenship.
The visas are awarded randomly to those in select countries to promote immigration from places that don’t otherwise send many immigrants to the US.
NYPD official John Miller said Saipov has never been the subject of an NYPD or FBI investigation, but investigators are looking into how he is connected to the subjects of other investigations.
He appeared to follow the ISIS playbook to a “T” in his attack, according to Miller. ISIS has posted instructions on its websites and social media about how to attack and kill the enemies of Allah.
Saipov was not on any US government terror watch lists, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
Just over six months ago, Saipov began driving for Uber in New Jersey, the company told CNN. He passed a background check and did not have any rider complaints about his safety as a driver, according to Uber. The company is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
Saipov once listed his occupation as a truck driver, his marriage license shows.
He had multiple run-ins with law enforcement in several states, online records show. He had traffic citations issued in Missouri and Pennsylvania and was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in October 2016 after failing to show up in court for a misdemeanor offense.
He paid a $200 bond, which he forfeited when he didn’t show up in court for his next hearing in November. A guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Saipov’s wife has spoken with investigators, law enforcement officials said. Saipov, his wife and three children have a residence in Paterson, New Jersey.
Carlos Batista, one of Saipov’s neighbors in Paterson, told CNN that Saipov had acted as a “peacemaker” about six months ago. Batista was riding a dirt bike at night, and Saipov’s friends asked him to stop. The incident became testy until Saipov stepped in and “calmed everything down,” Batista said.
Saipov has been linked to social media accounts that contain ISIS-related material, a law enforcement official said Wednesday morning. The official also said Saipov has been somewhat cooperative with FBI and New York police investigators who questioned him in the hospital overnight.
Officers were able to talk to Saipov before he went into surgery, but it was unclear if he told them anything, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Among the eight people killed, five were from Argentina, two were Americans, and one was from Belgium, according to the New York Police Department.
The Argentinians were part of a group celebrating their high school reunion in New York City, Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi died in the attack, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Nicholas Cleves, 23, from New York, and Darren Drake, 32, from New Milford, New Jersey, were the two Americans killed.
Anne-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old Belgian woman, was also among those killed, according to a statement from her husband, Alexander Naessens. Decadt, a mother of two young sons, was on a trip to New York with her two sisters and her mother, Naessens said.